Monday, May 28, 2012

The Cookers - Believe (Motema, 2012)

The Cookers are an all-star band much like the group The Leaders was in the 1980's. They play strong muscular hard bop in the tradition of Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers. There's no sense of the music being time-locked however, its sound like up to date modern mainstream jazz played by a group of true professionals. The group is first class with one of my favorite saxophone players, Billy Harper, on tenor, Craig Handy on alto saxophone, Eddie Henderson and Dan Weiss (he also produced and arranged the music on the album) on trumpet, George Cables on piano, Cecil McBee on bass and Billy Hart on drums. To their credit they play egoless music, where the ensemble passages are played with care and each soloist is supported by the other members of the band in a collaborative rather than competitive fashion. The centerpiece of the album is a blistering version of Wayne Shorter's composition "Free For All" form the Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers album of the same name, featuring some truly inspired soloing from Harper. The passion and precision the musicians bring to this track is emblematic of their vision of hard-bop and modern jazz in general. Apart from that, the remainder of the compositions come from the band members themselves, with Weiss delving deep into their back catalogs looking for unheralded gems to perform. They run the gamut of emotions from Harper's hard driving diamond edged compositions, to Cables' pastel shaded ballads. (Release date: June 12) Believe -

Send comments to Tim.